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SW Florida restaurant changes Naples, Ft. Myers, etc

Lots happening with the end of a pretty lackluster "season". A difficult time for most restaurants, big chains as well as the smaller chef owned places.

Since I live in Fort Myers, I'll report these things and I'm sure others will add later:

1. Harold's on Bay will close and leave downtown Fort Myers with no real fine dining establishment unless you want to count The Veranda. Harold is keeping his tapas style bar open next door H2, but Harold's will close in the next week or so. At one time he was going to open in South Fort Myers but it is a difficult time to try a new place.

2. RedFish BlueFish has closed on Tarpon Bay Rd on Sanibel and Sweet Melissa's has opened in the same spot.

3. Toro is gone and some new Shannon concept is open. It is called Bacchus for now but he has some crazy idea about "Swanky Food". His Cru concept was "Lush wines" or some such.

4. Angelinas is open in Bonita Springs. Looks to be very high end Italian. I think we could use a very good Italian restaurant. Nothing ever quite comes to a first quality level here.

5. The disastrous location at the Fort Myers Country "Club" has claimed another restaurant which will not be missed. The dreadful "Syl's" lasted about 2 years, 2 years longer than it deserved. The new place is called the Edison. It is almost impossible to have the city as your landlord, and that and some very cheap golfers, make the location impossible.

LMF

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  1. My mom went to an event at Bacchus last weekend. She said the food was good... not great, but good. I was sorry to see Toro go. I actually liked it and it brought something different to Fort Myers. Also sorry to see Harold's go. Again, one of those places that was by no means fantastic, but it was a great local spot. I wish he would have gotten rid of H2 instead. I did not enjoy the one experience that I had there. Food was a bit lackluster.

    1. Hey LMF, have you tried my favorite Ft. Myers restaurant yet, Sasse's? They recently expanded their hours to include a lunch service a few days a week, and also instituted a special multi-course prix fixe for early dinners. They have also eliminated their split charge, which I thought was a more than reasonable policy considering the generous size of most of their entrees. Great place, excellent food coming from their gorgeous woodburning oven, and hands-on proprietors who really care.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nosh

        yes. many times, both recently and years ago. They are good but the location is horrendous and the ambiance sorely lacking. I've always been put off by the huge portions. Many other places I'd rather go to. LMF

      2. LMF,

        Thank you for the heads up to all, on Fort Myers. I don't get up to Sanibel as often as I'd like.

        Redfish Bluefish is mainly a name change, per friends in the area. Chef Melissa has been there a couple years, and has a solid following, She took it over (bought if from previous owner?), added her name, and is said to serve same/similar quality food as before. I've not eaten there yet, so am curious.

        Harold's closing is a real loss. He worked so hard, and the construction kept business away for over a year. He'll bring some dishes next door to H2. He's creative, great on marrying different spices and ingredients, and has been one of the top handful of chefs in SW Florida. He's a genuinely nice guy as well. I wish him the best in continuing H2's fine quality

        Thistle Lodge has been a favorite of mine for years. A new chef took over months ago, I haven't tried it since then. It is one of the most romantic settings around, perched on the Gulf.

        There's a new Chinese place in North Naples to check out-Harvest Moon Modern Chinese. It's in the corner by Naples Tomato, next to Sam-Bucco's.

        I enjoy Naples Tomato, be nice to have a trio of good places in the small plaza.

        4 Replies
        1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

          I like Harold and his wife and his staff is close knit. At one time he was thinking about a new Harold's on Daniels. Probably not a good time.

          Thistle is one of my favorites. I wonder if they will keep the wine flights with dinners.

          Another closing noticed yesterday: Jalapeno's. It was a fave of the hispanic community and their fortunes have waned with the poor construction economy. I didn't like them as much as Cantina Laredo, but they definitely were superior to others like Iguana Mia.

          Anxious to hear about the Chinese place. Looks like it is not owned by Asians but an Italian. LOL. Perhaps in the PF Chang's mode? LMF

          1. re: LilMsFoodie

            I stopped by Harvest Moon Chinese, just long enough to try a few apps-a shooter of their tender plump PEI mussels with coconut, ginger, and an intoxicating chili bite to it, and know I'll be back for a real tasting. The BBQ pork was tasty tender, and had a good sauce. The spring rolls were crisply fried, and had fresh ingredients. There already are some regulars for dinner, and the outdoor bar is cool, shaded, and the staff is numerous and friendly.

            How smart is it to open a third Chinese restaurant 1.5 miles from delicious Charle Chiang's, or 2 miles from PF Changs? Pretty smart. Their advantage is their lower price point, different take on things, and their prices are the same for lunch and dinner. Also, it's a more casual place, and looks to fill a different niche, than CC or PFC's.

            I went to Fort Myers' Cru last night, and their food continues to lead the pack in taste and, well, beauty. This is what graces the pages of Art Culinaire magazine. I flipped over the Miso Glazed Diver Scallops, the Beef Satay, smiled when I tasted the difference between the red and gold beets in the Pan Seared Tuna...I could go on and on, if I wasn't such a slow typist.
            CIA and Daniel Boulud trained Exec Chef Brian Roland has a new menu for summer with generous portions, good prices, and the fact that the bar and restaurant can be nearly full on a weekday, off season, says it all. They are soon opening for lunch; a great way to sample things. The 4-7 happy hour has two- for -one "steals", and is no secret among the Bell Tower regulars! I loved the Asian Beef Satay for $8, and the Sun dried Cherry Chicken lettuce wraps for $9. Best deal is the Grand Cru app tower, with the lettuce wraps, steak sliders with shaved Manchego cheese, and tapas platter for $28.

            Since I live in Naples, I "save up" for a drive North, and have my eye on H2 and Casa Napoli next.. Maybe some of SW Fla chowhounds can do a "food tasting", meet over a table at a lucky restaurant, and trade stories! Val may be the catalyst!

            1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

              Nice report! We are going to Cru tomorrow for Mothers Day Brunch and I am really looking foward to it.

              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                My visit to Cru was completely disappointing..big bar crowd, not much in the way of dining. Loved Harold's when I went to Ft. Myers Rep and will be very sorry to see that go....Just came back from Cafe Napoli which I had been dying to try but thought would be futile in season with so few tables....Had been told it was the best in Ft. Myers...well, not off season...veal marsala came nuked in thick flour marsala sauce with burnt, yes burnt black sprig of rosemary for garni! Horrible potatoes underneath. Flan came with burned crust! and first glass of house chianti was turned. Other than that, the service was cheerful and prompt...the surroundings adorable and friendly. Wait til season to try this one and hopefully you can get in. Friday night in June, forget it.

          2. Add Dwyers to the list of closed restaurants. The steak concept flopped namely because a high end steak house has never made it in town. Ft Myers is more an Outback sort of town.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LilMsFoodie

              Thanks God. I am all for a high end steak house but Dwyres was an outrageously expensive disaster. Tried it once and once was enough.

              1. re: Suzie

                I was very unimpressed. The Dwyer family has the largest home in Fort Myers and is very wealthy. The restaurant was a lark for Jim and his enormous brood of kids. It never was much.

                How was your brunch at Cru? LMF

                1. re: LilMsFoodie

                  There were 5 of us and overall very good. A couple of us had benedicts and the yolks were over cooked and Cru was a little stingy with the crab on them. The truffle fries were really good! The bottomless mimosas for 10 bucks was a nice touch.

            2. Sky Bar in Fort Myers closed over the weekend and I understand Char has closed or is about to close.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Suzie

                The Sky Bar was very sleazy and people would go up there for a drink with that great view and leave very quickly. Little flimsy paper cups of crappy wine do not make for a good place. Everything is on hold downtown until the streetscape is finished and even then, I am not encouraged. I don't think Char is any great loss.

                I expect to see many more closings this off season. Restaurants that have supposedly closed for the summer may not reopen. I recently went to Cru for a third time in 2 mos. (I live close by in Whiskey Creek) and still don't see what is so great. We did the tiered appetizer with a bottle of wine. If I did not know that the kitchen "cares", I'd have said that some of the items came from Costco's freezer section. Nasty little won tons with an insipidly sweet sauce, Ahi tuna that was so rubbery, I had to smell it first. No smell, but also no taste. What was it. Little end bits of cheese and some stale toasted bread. Dinner there was just o.k. and really not ok for the cost. Lunch was a joke.

                Fort Myers is a wasteland for now. No more realtors, developers, and builders throwing money around.

                On a happier note: Anyone been to Angelina's?

                1. re: LilMsFoodie

                  http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.d...

                  The News Press favorably reviewed Angelina's a few weeks ago. If the link doesn't work, from the main page click on entertainment>dining>drop down box under last review. Click on "Angelina's is not just another..." I'm looking forward to trying it too when we're there next month.

              2. I dined at Angelina's the night before leaving for the season and thought it was great. It's not your standard Italian American menu-more like a Campiello. I don't remember the dishes we ordered but it was quite inventive and enjoyable. Even better, during the summer every wine under $100 is 1/2 price. Please support this restaurant. This is a valuable addition to the dining scene. I'm sorry I didnt have the chance to write it up but it would've received a sterling review.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RevrendAndy

                  I'm heading down next week, could you tell me where in Bonita it's located...I assume on 41 somewhere.

                  1. re: grouper

                    It's on the east side of 41 north of Bonita Beach Road. It's the old Sanibel Steakhouse building across 41 from the Ship. The food is excellent.

                    1. re: naplesscrape

                      Thanks! I thought I had noticed something new there, but didn't pay much attention. I'll check it out.

                2. Margarita Grille at Alico and 41 has become Sandy Parrot. OK place, service was a problem, maybe they're just workig out the kinks.

                  1. Angelina's: Went there in early May and cannot wait to get back to Naples to go again! I live in NYC, and am rather obsessed with good italian food, and Angelina's in Bonita definitely fits the bill. We over ordered, but it was worth it - pastas are a must! My favorites are the Papparedelle Caprese and the Fusilli de la Nonna - the Pappardelle has delicious buffala mozz and the tomatos are superb. Can absolutely taste the high quality of the ingredients. Although everything was great, my favorite appetizers were the Mussles, which were prepared in a slightly spicy tomato puttanesca sauce - very unique flavors; and the Antipasti were delicious as well - the marinated vegetables were on point! Cant wait to get back - Angelina's is a must if you are in the area!

                    Cru: went there in March/April for their anniversary celebration, so there was a tasting menu provided rather than the normal menu. My experience was pretty poor. Extremely overpriced given the quality of the food. We ordered for appetizers the mussels, tuna tartare, goat cheese salad and the caprese salad. Mussels were overcooked and shriveled, goat cheese salad was flavorless as was the caprese salad - which was prepared with tiny pieces of mozzarella that were fairly tasteless. Tuna tartare was good, and I had a fish entree that proved to be very delicious as well, but it didnt make up for the very disappointing appetizers. Will not be back.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: KC1

                      I totally agree with you on Cru. Lots of gourmands (as opposed to gourmets or foodies) think it is "hip". They seem to have none of their old wait staff who at least were competent. Your experience was the same as mine. They may not make it. Too many restaurants to compete with them.

                      1. re: KC1

                        Had dinner at Angelina's last night. Great dinner. Wonderful, very competent service. Would definitely go back.They were having a wine promotion - half price for any bottle under a hundred dollars. Great bargains to be had. I had smoked rabbitt app which was great, albeit small. Grilled tuna entree was fab not for the tuna but for the sides - potato with speck and a pureed minted pea sauce. WIfe had buffalo mozz and pasta entree. Very good. Spectacular dessert - zeppoli, made to order. Enough for four but even my wife ate them, she who never eats dessert!! (Hope she doesn't read this!!!) Definitely a must try restaurant down here.

                      2. This may be old news to you Ft. Myers residents, but it was new to me. The Blue Pepper closed. It had some of the best soups in Ft. Myers and imaginative sandwiches, many of a "gourmet" variety. There are still some some food items on the shelves of the deli part of the restaurant, so I assume the closing was fairly recent. Does anyone know what happened?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gfr1111

                          Chef Martin left years ago and it was on life support for about 3 years, undercapitalized and never could really make the commitment to be just a restaurant. I bought my meat and fish there for a few years when it opened but stopped going. They have been closed for months now. Probably February or so. The people who bought the restaurant got stuck with the gourmet food stuff. Some of that stuff was 7 years old. The retail store started its slow death when Fresh Market came to town. LMF

                          1. re: LilMsFoodie

                            Eurasia is the newest Vietnamese Restaurant in Naples - Fort Myers area. It is on Tamiami Trail East, Turn north on St Andrews, then a quick left into the small strip mall, and it's on the right.

                            The portions are larger than at Miss Saigon Gourmet, and the food is delicious. Can't go wrong with a tasty bowl of beef Pho, that can feed 3 people! I enjoy both Miss Saigon and Eurasia, the difference is Eurasia is more of a "restaurant", seating over 200, and it has a different menu, I loved the crepe, and tried other dishes, all properly cooked. Also, there's a bar with a friendly bartender, Tom.

                            Why is it called Eurasia? Well there's a Vietnamese chef, Ettore Mancini, and also an Italian chef, Tom Tran, and both chefs/menus offer great food, with thankfully no "fusion" between the cuisines. Fresh herbs are from their garden. There's more to the Eurasia name, you will learn when you visit and chat with Monique Tran!

                            I put a write up on my blog with some photos, June 9, to not repeat myself. Worth the visit!

                            Eurasia-- St. Andrews Square, 8793 Tamiami Trail East, #120 (Just East of St. Andrew’s traffic light, on the north side of the East Trail), 239-352-0888

                        2. Has anyone tried Crave? It's in the Bridge Plaza on the corner of McGregor and College Parkway. I've had lunch there a few times and it has always been very good. I've also heard good things about Cafe Cibo in the same plaza, but I haven't tried it yet. Has anyone eaten here? And the third restaurant I've heard good things about is Yabo....anyone know about this place?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: traffey

                            I've eaten at Crave and at Yabo, but not Cibo. I think Crave is great for lunch, it is a little spartan for my taste for dinner: minimal wine, stark decor. They have a great number of "comfort food" dishes. I had meatloaf sandwich one time and it was enormous, really too big but it was delicious in an old diner sort of way.

                            Yabo was fun. We sat at the bar facing the kitchen and watched them cook. I thought I had written up my dinner there, but can't find it. It was good but not earthshatteringly so. It has an offbeat location that should appeal to Chowhounds. LMF

                            1. re: traffey

                              I really like Cafe Cibo, although I think the previous location (in the same plaza) had more atmosphere. The Cibo owners have kept the previous location and reopened something else there. I'm wondering if that is what you are referring to.
                              I am surprised to see the post about Casa Napoli- my experience there was really very good.
                              We did visit a very good italian restaurant a few weeks ago in Fort Myers. It is a very casual place, in an odd location, with very good food. It was called Buon Appetito Cafe. It is off of College.
                              We went to Delicious Things the other night- it was our first visit since the new ownership took over. The food was excellent. It was expensive. There were only 2 tables- total of 6 people in there all night. They said the construction downtown has been killing them. It is very sad.
                              Still looking for really good pizza in Fort Myers.

                            2. I have enjoyed The Veranda since I moved here. It's a traditional fine dining restaurant, what's your issue?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: downtown3536

                                to whom was you comment about The Veranda made. No discussion of that restaurant here. It has an interesting location and the food is ok for what it is. The bar used to be lively and a fun place to go after dinner at Harold's.

                                I used to eat lunch there frequently but have not been for six months or so. I avoid downtown now. LMF

                                1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                  Patio 33 has closed in downtown Fort Myers. Made a brave stand during trying times. It was marginal always but had a good following for lunch as there are so few places. First Street Village Charbucks will close. Not a restaurant, but an indication of difficulties there. LMF

                                  1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                    Patio 33 was alway outstanding when we went. One of my favorite dinner places. Chef Dennis was great. Sorry to see it go.

                              2. Java Moon has closed. You probably never saw it and didn't know it was there on Daniels. It was just ok. Bad location, bad timing, etc.

                                6 Charbucks are closing in SW Florida. Fine with me. LMF

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                  I am with you on Charbucks (love the name, lol)! Thats too bad about Java Moon. I did have some decent meals there. It was a nice place to go for a quick lunch.

                                2. Left Coasters, help me out. I'm going to be coming to Naples over the weekend, looking to find what's great and NEW (opened in past year). Probably only have an opportunity for one dinner, from this and other threads my short list thus far has ->

                                  Angelina's
                                  Bacchus
                                  Eurasia
                                  Strip House
                                  Trilogy

                                  Bacchus may be too far a drive, and I'm inherently wary of "fusion" (especially Viet/Italian?)

                                  Thoughts on these and any others that ought to be on my list?

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    We ate at Bacchus yesterday and while it was good, it is nothing I would go out of my way for. I think they are still sorta tweaking it. The whole " Krafty Cruisine and Swanky Wine" concept sounds a bit odd to me and it didn't seem to fit what they are right now. The mac and cheese was really good but the Asian Noodle dish was really disappointing. Food prices were o.k. but the wine pours were small and over priced for midiocre wines.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      If you feel like contemporary Italian, by all means try Angelina. Strip House has great steak, at a high price. However, they have a very good caesar salad and to die for goose fat potatoes.

                                      1. re: RevrendAndy

                                        Absinthe? IM Tapas? Anyone? Haven't seen mentioned here.

                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                          Going to Trilogy tonight....anyone have something to say about this place (Service and food). The website doesn't open for me and I was curious to some feed back.

                                          1. re: Frodnesor

                                            Absinthe is pretty on decor, but sadly hit or miss on food quality, and has had many months to iron out the wrinkles. It's mainly for visiting after 10 pm as a nightclub. Most locals have tried it and found its culinary highs and lows to be unsettling-not consistent, I was there this weekend, with fish overcooked, and lamb just right.

                                            The large tv on one wall, and the huge projection screen on the back wall are always showing old movies, often pretty bloody, so it's a trendy thing, I guess. We find it very, very distracting to see people getting shot and stabbed while having dinner.

                                            I gave Absinthe a kind write up, compared to what other friends with I wrote, at:

                                            http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                            IM Tapas is a delight, great small bistro like ambiance, great tapas, and is the current "fair haired child" to visit in Naples/Ft. Myers.

                                            http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                            I thorougly enjoyed Angelina's in Bonita Springs, just haven't written it up yet.

                                            Strip house has expensive steaks, not great service, and a captive audience at the hotel. Locals don't go there much.

                                            A new Naples steak chain opened- The Keg, with very good prices, 2/3 of the Strip house and Ruth's Chris's prices, I've not yet eaten there. The steaks are aged, come with a potato or veggie, and price point is in $20's, vs $30's to 40's+ at Strip House. You pay $$ for a potato or veggies at Ruths, Shula's and the Strip. I get better much value at Flemings. With over 100 stores, the Kegs have buying power-will try in a few weeks when the crowds die down.

                                            Naples has a Whole Foods-we've arrived, I guess!

                                            1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                              On my comment about Naples' Absinthe, above, change my "TV and projection screen...are always showing old movies.." line to "was showing old movies while we were there", They may hopefully change the movies, or even stop showing them, while people are dining.

                                              I'm hopeful, too, that their fish will be cooked more in keeping with customer's preferences, and not just " cooked till it flakes easily", without first asking the customer "How would you like your fish cooked?". Visit Absinthe, visit other places such as Truluck's, USS Nemo, IM Tapas, etc. and see how your experiences at them compares. What are your preferences of the lot? That's the beauty of reporting on your dining experience, and letting readers compare their unique experiences, on Chowhound.

                                              As chefs can have "off nights", this reporting should even out highs and lows. Bonus. If chefs read the comments, they can learn, improve quality by fixing problems, and everyone benefits. If they don't change, readers can read a few writeups, form their own opinions, and dine accordingly.

                                              Naples' first Whole Foods is open, on 41, in the Mercato, just North of Vanderbilt. Yay, bragging rights! I wonder how this weill affect shopping habits, with some people buying fish at Swan River and Capt Jerry's, meat at Jimmy P's, and organics at Food and Thought.

                                              Capital Grille is opening Sept 22 week in Naples, catty corner to Fleming's Steakhouse, at the tip of the Mercato condo and shopping complex. It's close to the Keg, and not far from Ruth's Chris or Shula's. I think, from other chain's successes elsewhere, there's room for all to do well, When is the steakhouse market saturated? We'll see!

                                              "Little" Naples is growing, with a lot of steakhouses, other chain restaurants, and a few independent places opening, and staying, with very good quality. I only wish more good quality local "mom and pop" places could open to give their unique flavors, however "location, location, location" often means having deep pockets of a chain to place one in a Mercato or a larger shopping center to capture the walk by traffic.

                                              Local restaurants, (such as the late Margaux's ) in tiny strip malls or in "stand alone" locations, have told me that they've lost over 20% of their business when loyal patrons who visited once a month now only visit every few months, as the customers are checking out the chains at the big shopping centers, and seeing a movie just a few stores from their dinner. IM Tapas proves a feisty local can excell, and buck the trend.

                                              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                There's a restaurant that we love that I never see mentioned on this board called the Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda. For those of us in Estero, it's a rather easy 45 min drive up 75 and well worth it. It can be a bargain if you want it to be, especially at the bar. But, the regular menu is eclectic and great. Husband and wife run the place - she's the chef, he's the front-of-the-house. Good wine list with the standard promotions, at least for now. Well worth the trip if you are already in the Ft Myers area.

                                                1. re: rikerspharm

                                                  On Restaurant Openings and Closings

                                                  In Naples

                                                  Nektar closed, reopening as Gina's 7th Ave, serving Italian food.

                                                  Capital Grille opened practically across from Fleming's. I had top service at both places. Driving by on a Saturday night, off season, showed both places parking lots full. There's room for both.

                                                  M Waterfront Grille will open Oct 14 in Venetian Village at site of Maxwell's. Chef Brian Roland, formerly at Cru, will knock people's socks off with great food at good prices.

                                                  In Fort Myers

                                                  Bacchus' Shannon Yates is a master of creating dishes on the fly that are beautiful and taste great. Sit at the Chef's Table's 12 seats, especially on a Sunday night, and get silent videos on the wall and amazing food.

                                                  Dwyers closed and will reopen as Ichabod’s Wicked Good Food and Drink in November.

                                                2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                  Four if us dined at Angelina's in Bonita Springs last Saturday night, sitting in the lovely outdoor area (with heaters running on cool evenings). We had salad and fritto misto (basically fried calamari) appetizers, and our main dishes were rack of lamb, black grouper, scallops, and cioppino. Our opinion was that the appetizers were only average but that the main courses were excellent. There did seem to be a tendency to under-season and under-salt some things, but that could just be personal preference (and certainly preferable to over-salting, anyway). The quality of the ingredients was superior. There were some nice up-scale touches: a complementary amuse-bouche served right after ordering and a finishing sip of Limoncello after dinner. (Their wine list is amazing, at the upper end at least; just the thing if you really want a $3000 bottle of wine). It is an expensive place (rack of lamb is $44, for four good-sized chops, perfectly cooked), and it's very popular and crowded particularly on Saturday nights in season), but the service was good despite the crowd. Personally I prefer a quieter and intimate dinner setting (like Escargot 41), but all-in-all we enjoyed our meals greatly at Angelina's and will probably be back.

                                                  -----
                                                  Escargot 41
                                                  4339 Tamiami Trl N, Naples, FL 34103

                                                3. re: Frodnesor

                                                  have eaten in I.M. Tapas - it was delicious - nice and fresh but expensive.

                                            2. Can anyone recommend a great Chinese restaurant in Fort Myers? My daughters grew up loving Tung Hing on Fowler, but usually we get take out from there. It is a bit depressing to actually eat in there - pretty dingy and always empty except for all the take-out pick-ups. I would love to go out for some great Chinese and actually sit and enjoy it - any ideas?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Mothership

                                                *A Table Apart*

                                                A new star is born on Bonita Beach Road, West of Wyld's, also on the South side of the street, with the wonderfully Eastern, Asian influences of Executive Chef Jeff Acol's global cuisine at a "Table Apart" I like it because it has an upscale, warm setting with down to earth pricing.

                                                Hawaiian trained with the masters like Alan Wong, he's clearly mastered the nuances of Asian And French cuisine with his subtle use of spicing and fresh produce, and even adds some straight Italian for good measure.

                                                Check out my blog review at:

                                                http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                His "Rustic global cuisine" is deliciously that, with a touch of haute cuisine, in an upscale atmosphere with superb service, priced right.

                                                A couple had their anniversary or birthday dinner, and couldn't have been happier with the romatic setting, with warm lighting and soft, light background jazz. Same pleasure goes for my friends, who have already booked a second dinner!

                                                1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                  that place looks awesome. thank you!

                                              2. Say good bye to Cru, at Bell Tower. The poor economy and quite frankly, better restaurants put this one under. I also feel Coconut Point has taken what retail life is left in Lee County. Although I had lunch at The Grape two weeks ago on a Saturday at 12, and they were not busy at all. Even Coconut Point will have a tipping point and I think they have opened too many restaurants for now.

                                                I never was fond of CRU, thinking it was cheesily "hip". If you look above at my post on June 18, you'll see where I thought they were cutting corners on ingredients. I thought they might have had some food service pap instead of chef made appetizers last spring. I imagine I was right.

                                                Who will be next? If Mille Sapore isn't gone already it is probably on tap to close. I get massages next door and never see anyone there, but there was no sign saying they were closed. LMF

                                                17 Replies
                                                1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                  Also, Tropical Reef in North Naples recently closed. Too bad, it was a very nice little place and we'd never been disappointed there.

                                                  1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                    I'm not crazy about Absinthe. The locals dont go there, and the advertising brings in a lot of tourists.

                                                    "Fooderer" just started posting, with 4 posts this month, and each of his comment pumps up Absinthe. Hmmmmm.

                                                    1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                      I thought the same thing reading the Absinthe rec.

                                                      Business is definitely off everywhere. Saturday afternoon at Campiello at 12:30 pm we walked right in, got a patio seat. We went for a drink at Tommy Bahama's and it was not crowded. This week is usually very crowded in Naples with lots of families still visiting grandparents, etc. LMF

                                                    2. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                      I found a great spot!

                                                      David Wong's Pan Asian & Sushi is on 41 i BonitaSprings, where Cilantro Tamale's was, and it's very good Asian food. I'll write it up in the next couple of weeks.

                                                      Check it out!

                                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                        Insatiable, it's funny you mentioned David Wong's, as I just ate there a few days ago, enjoyed it, and was going to give him a plug. I anxiously await your review.

                                                        Happy New Year to all hounds out there! I think the world is happy 2008 is over.

                                                        1. re: RevrendAndy

                                                          Received what we regard to be a "telling" email yesterday, which was New Years Eve. Here it is:

                                                          Happy New Year: Celebrate Tonight with Steak and Stuffed Lobster $39.95!‏
                                                          From: Ruth's Chris Steak House (invitations@ruthschrismail.com)
                                                          Sent: Wed 12/31/08 7:10 PM

                                                          If the Ruth's Chris in Coconut Point is soliciting discounted New Years Eve business @ 7:10 pm on New Years Eve, to me that tells an unhealthy business message about the location.

                                                          For what it's worth, we had an awful experience there, and it's easily the absolute worst Ruth's Chris that we've ever been to by far, so perhaps our dining disaster was a widely shared one.

                                                          Happy New Year to all the SWFL foodies!

                                                          1. re: Lee34102

                                                            My thoughts last January. Same as yours.

                                                            More RC experiences:

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/465782

                                                            including mine:

                                                            We had a perfectly wretched meal at the Ruth's Chris in Bonita Springs, FL. I should have known something was up when I made a same day reservation in "season". Last year there was a two-three week wait.

                                                            I ordered a prosecco apertif and my boyfriend ordered a beer. The prosecco barely filled half the glass, this was no great burgundy requiring room to breathe <G> It was also flat. The server brought a second one that was only slightly chilled, underfilled and still flat.

                                                            We ordered a t bone and a filet. Neither was cooked to our specifications and the t-bone could barely be sawed with the knife. Barebones presentation. Definitely not aged beef. Someone is cutting corners.

                                                            Baked potato for him with a flaccid skin, almost as if it were microwaved. I ordered the special peas of the day. "Petit Pois" were barely thawed and had a variation of cheez whiz on them.

                                                            Bread was undoubtedly pepperidge farm. We had a bottle of Parducci Pinot Noir which is bottled for them. Nice wine but it was way too warm. No cellar temperature here, more like Florida trunk temperature. Had to be 75 degrees. We decided not to complain but I wrote the company via their website and had a reply wanting to call me to apologize. No thanks. I would not want to return.

                                                            After I mentioned this on Fodors, it appears that my experience is similar to others. LilMsFoodie.

                                                            The RC in Bonita Springs is on life-support right now. Way too many steak houses, including one's own home with much better wine to waste money at this kind of place.

                                                            Permalink | Report | Reply

                                                            LilMsFoodie Nov 09, 2008 06:58AM

                                                            1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                              Smokey Bones has closed.

                                                              1. re: Suzie

                                                                Darden ditched the concept a couple of years ago. Someone kept it open but it no longer had access to Darden capital and distribution. I think that the closings will start to snowball this season. LMF

                                                                1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                  Yep, I heard about the same thing - just over a year ago the company That owns Sweet Tomatos, Boston Market and Chevys bought it.

                                                                  1. re: Suzie

                                                                    Bell Tower News... A Crippled Cru rises from the Dead & Mad Takeout

                                                                    Mad Takeout, Chefs Shannon Yates and Ruth Cohen's co-creation, recently opened north of the Bell Tower shops-north of, and across the street from Cantina Laredo, and about 50 feet west of French Roast, in the same little strip center. I stopped by briefly-cheerful staff, clean large enough setting, and good selection of takeout foods, with wine and soft drinks. A few people were taking out some goodies. Shannon, former Executive chef at recently shuttered Cru, is successful with Bacchus, and should continue to do well with Mad Takeout.

                                                                    Speaking of Cru-it withered after Chef Shannon was forced out, and died soon after Chef Brian Roland left to open M Waterfront in Naples. Cru is suddenly reopening after John and Liz Kagan, the owners, abruptly closed Cru before Christmas, complaining that they were losing money for years, and it was mainly due to "the economy". The shocked employees perception of getting fired en masse may be more like "Merry Christmas underlings, er, employees, from the Scrooges. Now enjoy your pink slips and foreclosures, and go find new jobs!"

                                                                    The newest Cru chapter from the Kagans is that they are reopening it , allegedly due to some perceived public demand. "We had so many calls from people sorry to see us go,” Liz Kagan said to Drew Sterwald. “We were really touched by the outpouring from the community.”

                                                                    Aw Shucks, Liz. Such a caring, altruistic public servant. Leona Helmsley would be touched by your motives.

                                                                    Ahem. I'll sell you some Cape Coral real estate if you buy that one. Their tax attorney, not the "community's discharges must have told them other things. The Kagans are reopening Cru next week, however with lower quality food sources and cheaper prices. For the bewildered employees' sake, I hope it works.

                                                                    If that doesn't fly, Cru may next become "The Bell Tower Community Soup Kitchen", offering organic lawn clippings, to let the owners continue to serve their adoring community.

                                                                    1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                      I put a little report yesterday on the RIP Cru. I was never a fan, except for a few months years ago. There are too many restaurants at Bell Tower now, some will have to go the way of D'Amicos and a list of others. Most are sparsely populated. Not too many ladies who lunch. Bistro 41 and Shannon's new place seem to be doing ok. I have heard no clamoring for Cru, although I think Blue Pointe may be closed before Cru goes. LMF

                                                                      from yesterday:

                                                                      cru is reopening. that didn't last long, but their new slant will be small plates and lower cost. I think it is foolish to do it so soon, but they are probably on the hook for an outrageous rent. the owner is the leading orthopedic surgeon in Lee co. so I guess he can afford to do this. there is little traffic at bell tower right now and I'd be surprised to see this work out. LMF

                                                                      LilMsFoodie Jan 20, 2009 01:24PM

                                                                      1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                        LMF,

                                                                        Thank you. Sorry to hear Blue Pointe may be on its last legs-I never heard it was more than just ok, so never tried it.

                                                                        I've had lunch recently at French Roast, tried their "Vietnamese" grouper and shrimp, and it was too intensely spiced and red pepper hot for any Vietnamese I've tried!. I asked to find out what some of the ingredients were in the "Vietnamese" marinade besids the obvious hot red pepper, and the chef said it was his secret. Service was slow, few people were there, and they were thus overstaffed. Go figure. Last time I eat there.

                                                                        Cru had very high prices, snob appeal and a higher end reputation years ago, and lost their top chefs, who are currently running very good operations. It'll be a PR challenge to attract people to its new diminished food quality and small plates. Bonefish Grill type quality value and others will be a better bet-their parking lot is always full. Wish Harold Balink could replace Cru or Blue Pointe with his quality and price point-then the City of Fort Myers will tear up Bell Tower's parking lots for 2 years, to fix what ain't broke, and kill another neighborhood!

                                                                        Dwyers became Icabod's, and they serve a zillion things. Newspaper didn't give them a great review. Not on my list to try. Parking lot is said to have few cars, that also may be short lived. All in all, it's a loss for Lee County, which has perhaps a dozen spots I'd drive north to try.

                                                                        1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                          I know Harold but haven't heard of any plans to do anything other than H2. It should be ok as there is NOTHING else in that area but dreck, unless you count Veranda but they have radically different clientele. Harold was going to do something on Daniels last year but then the crunch really hit.

                                                                          French Roast has always left me scratching my head, it is like a nursing home tearoom to me. Very little really French or Vietnamese. I liked Blue Pointe when they first opened but they have been steadily going down now for the last 4 or 5 years. I did like their Oyster happy hour at the bar.

                                                                          Ichabods better slice that menu in half or even quarter it. Too many things, none done really well. A scenic outdoor view of US 41? I don't think so. The Dwyer family spent a fortune on the original building, lots of authentic Irish stuff but it never caught on except as a drinking club for the under 30's. The high end steakhouse was perfectly timed for failure. LMF

                                                                          1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                            Cru is back--moribund on life support.

                                                                            Cru has reopened, with a sorry excuse for a menu-it's the same for lunch and dinner. With 5 tapas, 6 entrees, and one dessert, it's a shadow of its former quality adn selection. Chef Richie Wilim can create so much more.

                                                                            Prevailing wisdon is that the wealthy owners suddenly closed it in December, breaking the lease and reneged on their rent, and the landlord came after the owner's deep pockets, causing them to re-think, and reopen Cru, to avoid having an empty property..

                                                                            There were no customers when I stopped by, yet Bistro 41 was ~1/2 full, at the same lunch time. It's a great location, and this dumbed down menu has to change, or it goes belly up in a few months.

                                                                            Mad Take-Out has opened, and is busy! Shannon Yates and Ruth Cohen have created a catering sized kitchen with over 80 items to choose from. There's pasta, sushi, soups, wonderful salads, kid food, even wine and beer. It's easy to order-by landline, cell phone, email, fax, you name it! The food is fresh, healthy, and very tasty.

                                                                            If Cru folds again, perhaps Shannon will take it over, and have it bustling and successful. There are things that an orthopaedic surgeon just doesn't know about running a restaurant.

                                                                            1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                              Bistro 41 is always consistent and fairly busy. They have stayed true to their clientele by offering relatively non-trendy food at fair prices. I prefer it to the new Bacchus. I am weary of the star chef stuff, composed plates with stupid stacks of stuff, foam this, coulis of that, I see balsamic reduction on almost everything and want to scream. All that razzle dazzle on the plate can cover up a lack of real understanding of cooking but that is what is taught in the over abundance of culinary academies.

                                                                              I took the Cordon Bleu class in Paris over 30 years ago and another in Italy. I know in my mind what a dish will taste like as I build the ingredients. Some of these combos are just a bunch of trendy ingredients to list on a menu and do not blend or enhance a dish.

                                                                              I am more into the ideas of the Slow Food movement than the Food Network Food as Porn movement. LOL. LMF

                                                                              1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                                LilMsFoodie,

                                                                                We are available anytime you would like to build some dishes for us. We'll pair it with great wine!

                                                    3. Just a little mini-rant...Last night (Saturday) my daughter called and asked us if we wanted to go to Bonefish Grill with her and her boyfriend. No thanks we said and we headed down to H2. She called back in a while and said they decided not to go because there was an hour and 45 minute wait. We get downtown and there is just almost no one down there. Like a ghost town. Harold had several tables filled but was far, far from the bustling crowds of yore. Plenty of room - no wait - on a Saturday night during tourist season. We had some lovely carpaccio, duck wings, lollipop lamb chops, warm mushroom salad and great halibut. Excellent food and comparable in price to what we would spend at Bonefish Grill (which I actually enjoy going to on occasion). But really - an hour and 45 minutes?
                                                      My issue is that I just don't get the crowds at the chains when our local spots really need our support.

                                                      I am just so peeved by the situation. I feel better venting a wee bit.

                                                      1. Just got back from my annual visit to Ft. Myers. Best dinner this trip was at Wyld's Cafe, on Bonita Beach in Bonita Springs -- on the south side of the street, west of 75 and 41, with parking and main entrance in behind. Excellent meal. I loved my starter, which was a shredded duck napoleon served over squares of puff pastry with mushrooms and a creamy parmesan sauce ($11, if I remember correctly). Fantastic dish, which I shared with others at our table. I also really enjoyed my special, a high-end meatloaf ground from filet, which was a huge portion (low $20s) and provided a big lunch later in the week. Also tasted my mom's pike, which was delicate and delicious, and my cousin's shortrib, which was tender and good in a sauce that had a sweet edge -- cranberry or something in the braise.

                                                        Another fine dinner at Bonefish Grill. Yes, it is a chain, very busy, and a wait if you can't make a reservation, but gee I wish we had them where I live. I loved my cup of corn chowder with crab -- rich, hot, luscious, lick-the-spoon good. My salmon was grilled exactly as I requested -- on the hottest part of the fire so it got a nice crusty char but stayed medium-rare and very moist in the center. Enjoyed my taste of my mom's spicy shrimp. Excellent, friendly, very enthusiastic service. The people running this operation are doing something very right.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: nosh

                                                          Mothership,
                                                          If I lived in Ft. Myers, I'd be a regular at H2-great food, pricing and live entertainment. Harold is "the man".

                                                          Nosh,
                                                          Time to try A Table Apart on your next visit, just a block or so west of Wylds-you'll love it's charm, and the food is a consistent delight, with Hawaiian and French accents. My notes below:

                                                          http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                          MiraMare opened last week on Naples Venetian Bay, at Marie-Michelle's former location, and the food and service merits a visit. The broad Bay view is expansive by day, and romantic by night.

                                                          I've tried a few things at::
                                                          http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                          and I'll be back. Wish I could reserve a table next to the water for Valentine's Day!

                                                          I went to Bayfront Bistro, and had a good meal. The lump crabcakes had no lumps and a good amount of filler-my server said it was "lump". (Go to Swan River in Naples to see what a real "lump crabcake" is.) My pork tenderloin was worth the trip, and the SweetFire shrimp have good heat. Very good tuna appetizer, and fresh mussels, tho on the small side. It's their second week, so I expect only improvement and much success. The GM and the owner stop by every table, so nearly anything can be mended. The view over the bay is beautiful- get there before sunset. This is a much needed addition to Fort Myers Beach. I'l have a report to follow on my blog, I'll be busy this week with Winter Wine Festival events.

                                                          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                            We had lunch at "A Table Apart" last Monday (opens for lunch at 11:30). We had the Thai calamari, Ahi salad Niçoise, and a Hawaiian pork pressed sandwich and tomato soup. It was quite good and very reasonably priced. The calamari was exceptionally tender and light, with a nice Thai dipping sauce. The pressed pork was very juicy and flavorful, and the salad was a classic Niçoise, but topped with excellent seared salmon. To our surprise, house wine, beer, and the calamari were all half-price for lunch (as were the chicken wings, which we did not try). A very welcome addition. We'd like to go back for dinner some time.

                                                            1. re: TomOHaver

                                                              A Table Apart has excellent food-I get emails from my blog from happy campers, over the past 8 months.

                                                              Wylds Restaurant has closed, following sister restaurant Crust's earlier closing. Sad to see that happen.

                                                              A Table Apart has consistently very good food and service, that is a couple notches above Wylds. A Table is half a block west of Wylds on Bonita Beach Road. A Table Apart's Global Cusine has won over a lot of Wyld's former customers. Wylds indicated they will reopen when the season starts. Nice people there, I hope then can make a better go of it, second time around. Bonita's restaurants are drying up, with fewer diners there-I think people eat more at home, and also more at Coconut Point when they go out. A double whammy for the independents, like A Table Apart, Wylds, and David Wong's.

                                                              I lke Bonita Springs David Wong's Pan Asian and Sushi very much. Very good Asian cuisines and service. Owner is on site and he is friendly. The food is authentic Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian, Japanese, etc. It's the real thing, not a PF Chang mixture! I had the Cambodian Scallops Amok, and it's great, with lots of scallops in a banan leaf bowl. Sushi is fresh, abundant, and beautifully presented.
                                                              Ive been back there several times, and it's always enjoyable. Review and pics at:

                                                              http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                Tastings in the Gulf Coast Town Center is closing. Their last night will be tomorrow (Sept 12th). They are offering all kinds of deep discounts and even their cost on things if you pay cash.

                                                                1. re: Suzie

                                                                  Harold has left h-2. Disagreements on direction with new owners. I never much cared for it but it was definitely the class of the neighborhood. I was downtown in the "River District" today at lunch hour and forgot that they had closed.

                                                                  Had a most mediocre lunch at Matisse. Much better quality lunch available at Starbucks . Dreadful quiche, ok mushroom puree (called bisque but no cream or even stock that I could discern), vapid white bordeaux by the glass. Lunch was $25, which seemed much for the small quantity and poor execution.

                                                                  I digress, back to H-2. No plans announced by Harold yet. I imagine he just wants to rest. Running a restaurant has to be exhausting these days. LMF

                                                            2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                              Got to A Table Apart during my annual visit this week -- very good place. My rack of lamb was perfectly medium-rare, and was served in three multi-chops (ten singles in all) and came with a very tasty Asian-inspired sauce along with mashed potatoes and hericot vert. My uncle's pork chop was gorgeously grill-marked and massively thick. Others had the mussels, the filet, and the Thai chicken wings over a waffle. The most expensive entrees were $29; I may be mistaken but I remember the menu topped out at $32 or $33 a year ago. It also should be mentioned that despite being full on a weeknight, the restaurant was not overbearingly loud.

                                                          2. the word on Naples Tomato is that the quality of the food has gone down. still some good dishes (lasagne) but they lost their great chef Sebastion because he didn't want to compromise...and i think that's why they can do all the discounts and half-offs. and now its wants to franchise--the kiss of death for quality food (unless you only want to be a steak house). will try the new place next to it.

                                                            10 Replies
                                                            1. re: Sebastian Mazzotta

                                                              And even on 5th Ave, there are summer discounts...look at Mangrove Cafe...dinner for two $29.95, I think...it's very difficult in the summer here for any restaurant.

                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                Sorry to hear Naples Tomato is not as good as they were, without Sebastian.

                                                                Cafe Italia, a few doors down from Naples Tomato, has been doing a great business.

                                                                Some say it's more tasty and authentic Italian than Naples Tomato. Worth a try. I wanted to do a review on them, but they wouldn't even let me have a copy of their menu. Odd. I can't remember 8 dishes and their ingredients, after a few glasses of wine. I enjoyed the food.

                                                                I like Two Brothers Baci for Italian-great taste, fun crew, and free live entertainment evey night-beat that!

                                                                1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                  Here's some Naples spots I like.

                                                                  I am a fan of European Bakery and Cafe. I've had their very good Polish/european soups, multigrain bread, cakes and coffee for breakfast/lunch, and soon will try their dinner.

                                                                  http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                                  I am crazy for Gracie's Cupcakes. I have had two dozen so far, and am ready for more. They are made fresh daily without preservatives, and are oh-so-tender and delicious. She makes her cupcakes into an art form worth buying, again and again.

                                                                  http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                                  Falafel Grill in Naples on Oine Ridge by Saffron, behind the Hess gas station is the real thing, run by a nice family. Great healthy food and great prices. Have a big lunch or dinner for under $6-7. I'll have my write up soon.

                                                                  I've been trying a few other places, none worth a strong positive recommendation, so my search continues..

                                                                  1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                    i'll have to try the Falafel Grill--i pass it every day. bought some falafel from costco because i was jonesing for it--fell extremely flat.

                                                                    1. re: Zeits

                                                                      Went back to Falafel Grill for my second time on Friday...had the falafel supreme which comes with roasted eggplant in with the falafels in the whole wheat pita...SO delish! One of the owners was out on Pine Ridge Road holding a Falafel Grill sign... Maybe once they have their name on the marquee for that plaza, he won't need to do that anymore...poor guy in this heat....

                                                                      1. re: Val

                                                                        just got back from Falafel Grill--and my wife and i both agree its great. as a matter of fact we caught the owner just as she was leaving to go and hold the sign on PR--anyway we get there and i assumed it was where the old Noodles was but instead it was where a bunch of mediocre pizza and what not places had been. we got there around noon and was empty...then it started to fill up with local workers and locals from around town. i had the falafel supreme and it was delicious and my wife had the greek chicken salad. it is no frills, still getting their bearings kind of place and i think they will do well.
                                                                        (just realized that An Insat App specified that it was not the old noodles/ newish saffron place.
                                                                        by the way, how is Saffron?

                                                                        1. re: Zeits

                                                                          Yay, glad you tried it and liked it. (I kinda like the 'no frills' thing--helps keep the prices down so that we local workers can afford it!)

                                                                          1. re: Val

                                                                            I have my blog report up on Falafel Grill at:

                                                                            http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                                            It's rough starting a mom and pop shop. I help in any way I can.Eveyone wins when they can survive, succeed, and keep prices low.

                                                                            Zeits, Saffron is good to very good on items. I like to have their tasting appetizer platter, the Chicken Tikka Kadai, and a few hot dishes.

                                                                            1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                              Ivan, would you say that Saffron has improved a bit since it first opened?
                                                                              Thanks! And, it really is a great service you do to help these little places, I must say; Falafel Grill reminds me of a little place in San Francisco that I went to with my son in January--just a little place where you order at the counter, no big deal...they tell you it is ready...everything was fresh and delicious, not pretentious and definitely owned and run by folks who KNOW their falafel! There was no atmosphere...just good food and sometimes, that's all you need.

                                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                                Val,

                                                                                So well put on your describing Falafel's wonderful food and siimple setting.

                                                                                I've found Saffron's improved over time. Customers can drive them, or any interantional restaurant nuts when they claim a dish isn't made "right". I've been to Saffron with thw well erspected Indian cooks who proclaim it "good", and quickly state "The best Indian food is only found in an Indian's home kitchen!". Folks who have "rogan josh" wiht one cook act surprised when it's different at another restaurant. Well, it's different at the spots in Kashmir, wher it originated, too! Hindu and Muslim preparations differ greatly in Kashmir, and they cook the rogan josh just 20 feet apart.

                                                            2. 2010 update: RIP
                                                              Mille Sapore. This mediterranean restaurant had a good opening 6 years ago and hung on until last week. It was on Summerlin. Owned by an Egyptian man, the food was pretty good for a while. I haven't seen any life there for some time.

                                                              Still very tough conditions for small independent restaurants although you wouldn't know it by the traffic. Heavy traffic yesterday to Fort Myers Beach so I abandoned the trip over the bridge and thought I'd have lunch at Dixie Fish: at 12:30 there was not one car in the parking lot so I steeled myself and went to Doc Ford's. I am unhappy to report that I had a poor experience once again. I ordered their "award" winning panko crusted fish sandwich. The fish was fish stick type material (they did not say it was grouper though)and it had a soggy fine bread crumb crust. It is difficult to make a soggy crust with panko. Wonder Bread whole wheat bun. Food service fried. I enjoyed the view however.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                I've only heard negative things about Doc Ford's Fort Myers Beach.

                                                                Naples has a dozen or so places to open this month or so.

                                                                Two I'll be returning to are:

                                                                Bert's Seafood and Chwder House at 862 5th Ave South- former site of Corks. Tops in fresh seafood, with generous portions and great prices for the size. I could stay at the bar and order starters, or dine with friends. I love the Seafood Bisquie, the lobster roll is the real thing, and the baked seafood platter is filling. They are smart, offering kids menu. This gives Truluck's a run for the money, at a better pricepoint on some items. The two seafood spots are quite different, so there's room for both on 5th Ave South.

                                                                Rudi's European Cuisine at 107th and 41, is primarily German, with other European favorites. The food is very good. Attractive setting and very good service.

                                                                Eric Pate's opened where Nekter, then Gina's 7th Ave failed, and this has staying power. I'll visit in a few weeks.!

                                                                1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                  Is Eric Pate's somehow related (son or grandson) to the old Pate's Steak House in Fort Myers?

                                                                  And was Pate's in Fort Myers the place with all the wine bottles in the concrete front of the building? on 41 near-ish college pkwy?

                                                              2. Hickory BBQ has re-opened. Went with my daughter around 11:00 on Thursday (happened to be passing by). Their menu remains the same as before they closed. By the time we left at noon, there were about 30 people waiting for a table. Had to leave with a coconut cream pie of course, as my husband has been craving one since they closed.

                                                                26 Replies
                                                                1. re: Mothership

                                                                  hickory bbq?!?! at the beach cut-off? WOW... great news.

                                                                  how many years has it been?

                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                    Eric Pate is one of the 5 sons of patriarch Cloyde Pate, who created over 25 restaurants in the SW Florida area over the last 40 years. If anyone knows how to open a place, it's Cloyde!

                                                                    Rossopomodorro opens Thursday just down the block from Bert's, serving great looking appetizers and grilled items, howver they are best known for their pizzas. This is the first in the USA of a chain over over 80 Italian restaurants based in Naples, Italy, so they seem to know what they are doing. Prices are friendly, and the place is quite attractive. This and Bert's are real pluses for kickstarting 5th Ave South. Ron's pizza spot on 5th Ave South never really caught on, so this should easily replace it with a prettier location and better food.

                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                      we stopped by Hickory the other day but it had a huge wait. on Old McGregor. It closed in 2003. Has very short hours, no beer license. 53 year old restaurant, pretty rare around Fort Misery or anywhere else in SW Florida.

                                                                      1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                        I said hi to Chef Emeril Lagasse on 5th Ave South yesterday. Fun to watch some peoples' jaws drop as they walked by him, and did a double take! He is friendly and approachable- in Naples for the weekend with other chefs like Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Dallas' Dean Fearing, Chicago's Rick Tramonto. They are exploring Naples before and after their dinners tonight-they tend to dress casual, and can blend in pretty easy, except for tall Texan Fearing with his amazing boots!.
                                                                        Hope the Winter Wine Festival continues to bring in more funds to help the kids charities, esp. since charity contribution s all over are down.

                                                                        5th Ave South is busy now-a very good sign. I like Rossopomodoro. Had very good pizza, a clever fried pizza dough creation, and a bean and mussel dish -nicely done. Staff is friendly.
                                                                        Recently I've had some of Vergina's goodies, a pork belly that's to die for, and a potato creation with a Peruvian twist. I've liked Trulucks seafood for years. Newcomer's Bert's Seafood is busy, and will fit in well, the two seafood spots are quite different, and both offer great seafood. Bistro 821 has a pot roast that melts in your mouth. Prices are clearly down from last year on 5th, and it's bringing in more folks.

                                                                        Had another dinner with my group of 30 diners at KC American Bistro, and all guests were highly impressed with the high quality. Service is great. I like the Saintsbury wines, and had a Pinot and a Cab that paired nicely with my glazed duck. They are gonna get a lot of repeat customers!

                                                                        1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                          Our probate group tried Rosso pomodoro today...meh! What I cannot fathom is such a NOISY place...the decor does not lend itself to any acoustics. at. all. ..what clamor and din! Holy smokes...I could not hear what co-workers were saying at our table over the noise. There is NOTHING in the place to soften the clatter and voices. Ugh! Sorry for the rant. Servers are on Italy-time...very nice but not fast and when they see a group of 4 -6 come in wearing business attire, well, you'd think they MIGHT get it to kind of hurry just a little more than gram and pops on vacation. Food was good...I just really can't say more than that...8" pizza for $14??? My salad's tomatoes were kind of pale and not very ripe...they import them from Naples, Italy??? Another ugh. Well, we tried it, glad we can say we went. I personally would not go back.

                                                                          1. re: Val

                                                                            Val,

                                                                            It was noisy as the public was invited on on opening night last week, and I figured that was with a ton of people squeezed in. I liked the pizza prices, but no one said they were only 8" pizzas for $14. Ouch. I could possibly eat two for $28...not good pricing for dough, cheese and a topping.

                                                                            And to not even have great tomatoes with a kazillion tomatoes in SW Florida? Uh-oh! Off on the wrong foot...OR they have a grudge aginst probate groups. Hmmm I wonder which it is.

                                                                            I don't know if Berts is quick for lunch but I loved my seafood bisque, and a lobster roll is huge, not cheap, but generous with lobster for dinner at teh price.

                                                                            1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                              Hahaha! I thought Bert's was only open for dinner...did I read that somewhere? Anyway, I've heard good things about it. RP was pretty busy, I will say that for them.

                                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                                I almost ran int Ivan @ RP, but we missed each other by seconds...anyway, I went back to RP for lunch 2x this last week and I think it has some promise, but my pizzas were not earth shatteringly different. On one, the broccoli rabe soaked through to the crust, leaving it soggy and not at all interesting. The second time I ordered a salad (you mix your own vinaigrette) was good and the pizza w/ red sauce and cured salami was great.. I think it will take the public a while to adjust to a menu devoid of chicken parmigana or veal marsala, but maybe that's what the town needs.

                                                                                1. re: TedH

                                                                                  Hi Ted!

                                                                                  Yep, time to get the bugs out of RP. I'm tickled that new spots are opening on 5th Ave South to revitalize the street.
                                                                                  Across from Mc Cabes is tiny Ron's Pizza. The pizzas can sit out for an hour, then are reheated when you order. Not my style. RossoP may cook Ron's goose with fresh hot pizzas and all the other jazz.. I like watching the guys from Italy sling the pizzas out of the oven at RossoP's.

                                                                                  Sophia's Italian opend Friday where Roman oven was on Pine Ridge, by Harley Davidson. Haven't tried the food, but one family said it's good Italian standards for prices in mid $20's to low 30's. Nice young couple owns it. Makes pasta and sauces daily. Sophia's named after their daughter.

                                                                                  With over a dozen spots opening in Collier this 1-2 month period, it'll be interesting to see who survives a year, given all the discounts going on.

                                                                                  1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                    In fairness to RP, we did see another co-worker there yesterday with a client. They also found the noise unbearable BUT they adored their entrees, both hot pasta dishes. He would probably return, he said.

                                                                                    1. re: Val

                                                                                      While we're on the topic of pizza....Pizzaiolis Neapolitan Wood Fired Pizza has recently opened in North Naples at 2359 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.in the "Collection at Vanderbilt" at the Northwest corner of Airport and Vanderbilt Beach Rd. http://www.pizzaiolis.com/. Their pizza is the rustic, hand-made thin-crust type; they claim that most of the ingredients are imported from Italy. Personally, I though it was delicious, with a very thin foldable crust, chewy puffy slightly charred edges, puddles of home-made mozzarella, and wonderfully fresh-tasting toppings (including outstanding fennel sausage). Actually, I don't usually like the typical mass-produced pizza-joint pizza, but this stuff is really good. Prices were $10 - 15 for a 12" pie.

                                                                                      The place is fairly large and the menu offers much more than pizza. Both times we've been there it's been pretty busy, but the service has been good.

                                                                                      1. re: TomOHaver

                                                                                        Tom, thanks for that info'--just noticed it when I went to that CVS nearby! Sounds very good!

                                                                                    2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                      Ron's Pizzeria its just a great place to go and eat!!! The pizza its absolutely delicious, the atmosphere its just a reminder of a European Enoteca and the decor the most beautiful in the 5th Avenue!! As far as the pizzaa being precooked its a lie and before anyone makes such comments should be sure of the facts!!! And, that place its busy all the time and they are doing great; we go and eat there very often and love the owners, a young European couple!!!

                                                                                      1. re: ILR

                                                                                        wow, this post looks strangely familiar!

                                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                                          Sorry Alkapal. I was on the road (drove FM to New York) so didn't see your post until now. It has been closed since 2003 as LilMsFoodie said below. The older couple that owns the place was there, but I think the son is going to eventually take over. Mostly new staff. Everything is just the same right down to the 1957 menu on the wall. I don't know what it is about their bbq sauce, but I could almost drink it straight from the bottle. I've been going there since taken as a baby in 1959 (uh-oh dating myself - oh well). I preferred the older building they moved out of many years ago, but it's so nice to have this comfort spot back again and my husband (usually Joe Healthy) did serious damage to that coconut cream pie. I got one slice.

                                                                          1. re: Mothership

                                                                            mothership, i'm looking forward to getting there. is the coconut pie dreamy? (uh, so much for my diet). well, you can tell my age from my calling the location "near the beach cut-off." ;-).

                                                                            Go Red Knights!

                                                                            (i've been satisfying the Q urge at rib city, but it just isn't quite the same as hickory bbq).

                                                                            1. re: Mothership

                                                                              We had lunch there yesterday and I don't know what to say. Hushpuppies were leaden and flavorless. I had the pork which was ok. My husband is from North Carolina so he wasn't impressed at all. They do pulled pork there. The sauce was good and vinegary but very thin. Biscuit was pretty good.

                                                                              I was looking forward to the Coconut Cream Pie. It was not good at all to my taste. Soggy crust with no crumble, no taste. Definitely crisco. Meringue was too sweet, not browned at all. Jello pudding filling. I will keep looking. It isn't as I remembered at all. They will do well if they can get their service issues resolved.

                                                                              1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                                You know, I think bbq is just all about what you grew up loving. Yes - their bbq sauce is thin, I am just in the habit of pouring sauce on the sandwich between each bite. I brought my daughters up on their bbq pork and Hickory bbq is their favorite too. I don't eat the hushpuppies there so can't comment.
                                                                                As for the coconut cream pie, I haven't ever heard anyone not loving their pie. It tastes just like it used to. But again, it's all about what you grew up on, and there is a great level of comfort in something you have enjoyed for 50 years that hasn't changed.
                                                                                And Alka - yes, it at the beach cut-off. I still call it that after all these years too. (doesn't everyone?) :)
                                                                                P.S. Go Green Wave...

                                                                                1. re: Mothership

                                                                                  That's why all kinds of restaurants thrive. The place was packed with former diners. If I have to go there again, I'll do the ribs. Those looked ok.

                                                                                  I would never be nostalgic for food from the 50's. I'm about as old as a baby boomer can be, so I know all about canned everything, margarine, Wonderbread, incinerated pork (trichinosis anyone?).

                                                                                  That is why Velveeta is still on the shelf and in the kitchens of the likes of Cracker Barrel, etc.

                                                                                  I once made the 12 can dinner for a party just to remind people what we grew up with. What a hoot. We drank Gallo Hearty Burgundy and I offered daquiris made with bottled lime juice as cocktails. The 12 can dinner recipes can be found in "Square Meals" cookbook. It is the bible for nostagic American recipes.

                                                                                  You are right ,Mothership. BBQ is very much a reflection of what you grew up with. Anytime someone asks for the best bbq in town, I know there will be many opinions. I generally don't participate in those discussions as I like many types of "q". Eastern North Carolina, Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, etc. Fifty years ago my dad used to buy our ribs from a black guy who smoked his in an old oil drum. He sold them from an alley behind his house. Strictly illegal which added to his mystique. There is supposed to be a somewhat similar situation in east Fort Myers, I might just go looking for it. LMF

                                                                                  1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                                    there is such a bbq shack on MLK blvd, near where evans comes into MLK -- or maybe just east of there a bit. the house is a small cinderblock one (painted white?) on the north side of MLK, with a screen porch you can barely see into. if they are smoking the Q, you'll see (and smell) the smoke. they work with a refurbished oil drum, iirc, as i've seen it on the front lawn.

                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                      It's worth the trip just to see his smoker. It's a huge old cast iron? monster inside the screened porch. The converted drum out front is on a trailer so I think he uses it for catering (as well as advertisement - other than the Q aroma it's the only hint of the bbq shack).

                                                                                      1. re: Bumstead

                                                                                        Sorry to hear Hickory BBQ is just ok.

                                                                                        Crave real delicious BBQ?
                                                                                        I just had great classic BBQ in Fort Myers, though not at a conventional restaurant.. Yesterday, after hearing great reviews for months about BBQ maven Emmett Todd's Backyard BBQ School, I attended his $65 monthly 3 hour class in Lakes Park in South Fort Myers. He extensively covers how to make your own at home true BBQ from scratch, and relaxing while it slow cooks at the right temperature.

                                                                                        It's well worth the price to me and to the other BBQ people in attendance, some of whom compete in various regional competitions. Emmett freely shares clever tips that you'd never pry from from BBQ competitors- I'll try some at home-I see where I can improve already. He covers basic sauces and rubs, lump charcoal or briquettes vs propane (not!) and proper cooking techniques. During the course, sip lemonade, tea, and munch on apps and heavenly BBQ ribs, and dine on more ribs and his mojo chicken and sides at the end.
                                                                                        He does catering and will travel to teach his course- i may book him to come to Naples when I can get a small group together. www.backyardbbqschool.com

                                                                                        He and the attendees speak highly of the BBQ place on MLK, a family tradition gong back 50 years.

                                                                                        1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                          Brilliant. I'm in the next class. As the proud owner of a Big Green Egg I'm always looking for new tips and techniques.

                                                                                        2. re: Bumstead

                                                                                          bumstead, how is the Q at the MLK shack?

                                                                                          also, what about the big bus kind of thing where some outfit was selling Q on fowler (it was parked in the lot next to the strip "mall" (ahem) between market street and lafayette ? i haven't seen it in the last few months.

                                                                                          (i miss sonny's on fowler. i'd always stop there going to/coming from the airport. the other sonny's don't taste the same to me).

                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                            I recommend it.
                                                                                            The first time we went he asked if we'd been there before and when we answered no he chopped up a half rack of ribs and laid them on the counter for us to sample. His sauce was great, perfect balance between sweet and spicy hot. The meat was fallin-off-the-bone.
                                                                                            Several times since the sauce has leaned more towards sweet. The ribs have been more to my liking and didn't fall off the bone as Florida Q generally does.
                                                                                            I like to stop on my way home from the airport after picking up company. A rack of ribs ($19) and order of chicken ($7) will feed 4 with leftovers.

                                                                                        3. re: alkapal

                                                                                          thanks, I'll scout it out soon. I remembered it being discussed here but a search didn't come up with it. Chowhound's search engine is quirky.

                                                                                          I am interested in the BBQ class. We've seen the promotion for it as we walk at Lakes Park. What a great park that is.

                                                                            2. I was driving by Health Park yesterday and noticed to my horror that Grouper and Chips had closed and was now an Italian restaurant. This has always been my gold standard for fried grouper. I immediately called their other location near downtown Naples and was relieved that they are still open. A longer journey but all is not lost.

                                                                              1. its been a while and haven't tried too many new places but here goes:

                                                                                Blueberry's--didn't see any difference from the Denny's it was

                                                                                Jolly Cricket--several visits and each one is good. but its not mediocre trilogy or zoe's with the outrageous prices.

                                                                                Stage 62 deli is getting excellent mentions (inc myself and my kids) across the board. its the best deli i've seen. not 2nd Ave status but nothing to complain about (i've lived here too long now).

                                                                                anyone try the new Italian rest where Encore use to be? just what we need another italian place and i never got to 3 Brothers.
                                                                                have been going to Patric's (where the hotdog places use to be near Alessio's) and its very good, very fresh and where else is there is a chef and a sous chef for a "local grill"?

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Zeits

                                                                                  I'm glad to hear Stage 62 opened. It is a Detroit suburban institution. Probably carries Vernor's Ginger Ale, a quirky drink that I never could warm to even I lived in the area for years. I will be going there very soon.

                                                                                  1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                                    me too me too! I want to try Stan's!!! LOL...the ASIA FEST is on Sat. Feb. 20th at the Mercato which I will attend...so I might stop in to Stan's and get a potato knish...haven't had one since I lived in 'Jersey so long ago...they are da bomb! Well, okay...probably have to get a pastrami sandwich with it...oy!

                                                                                  2. re: Zeits

                                                                                    Zeits, the Italian restaurant that replaced Encore is called Cafe Italia. Here's my review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/680949

                                                                                    1. re: TomOHaver

                                                                                      Zeits,

                                                                                      I've been to Cafe Italia at their former location. They were apparently forced out by Naples Tomato over a contract issue (no one's talking) that kept two such similar spots from being competitors 100 feet apart. NT was there first, so CI had to go. Very suddenly.
                                                                                      They are good Italian as TomOHaver says, but not as good as Two Brothers.. I've not gone to the new CAfe Italia /old Encore location as the cooks, owners etc are the same. That's a larger location which is good, as it probably came at a bargain lease rate, having been empty for two years-I hope there's no residual mold in there!

                                                                                      I also went to Asia Fest, and had no room for knishes afterwards!
                                                                                      Jolly Cricket has a nice atmosphere and solid British food.
                                                                                      Blueberry's is in a tough location, with rear parking-these spots don't do as well as those with front parking. the menu didn't excite me, so I save my $ and calories for other spots.
                                                                                      Bert's on 5th AVe South has very good New England seafood.

                                                                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                        Two closings in Naples across from NCH downtown.

                                                                                        Janes closed a couple months ago after trying to deal with an impossible landlord, who allegedly let the roof leak and plumbing back up.

                                                                                        Now Sweet Mama's, one of my favorites, has closed, with similar problems with the same landlord, who has had big financial failings, and let the little strip center fail , it's now gone into receivership.

                                                                                        Grouper and Chips is sweating it, to see if they can continue under these unfavorable conditions. Bankers are not generally known for kindness, except when they are getting their bonuses at taxpayers expense!

                                                                                  3. i have one more to add. was working late and decided to do some takeout and noticed that Roman Oven had changed to Sophia's so i called and ordered something rather pedestrian (and also my little test order for italian rest--veal parm--if they can't do this then what's the point?). so i go to pick it up, it still has the granite coming out of everywhere and for a monday it was packed. the owner is working the place, starts talking me. i ask if its different owner--says yes and that the food is much better and made from scratch. asks me what i ordered and then says--"you'll love it, we make it from a veal chop"--after a moment i realize that veal chops are not usually the $15 VP i'm use to. but i must say it was the best $34 VP i ever had. not breaded to much. the meat was tenderized. and it came with salad and pasta.
                                                                                    anyway i did take a look at the menu and this was the priciest thing as its one of their specialties. the pastas go for 16 and the entree in the 20's.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Zeits

                                                                                      I really lilke The Art of Being, behind Flemings, in the Pavilion Center.

                                                                                      Fresh food properly cooked, attractively served in calming warm environment. It offers small (medium to some) sized plates for $7-10 each, so you can have 1, 2 or 3 and sample the very high quality cuisine. There's seafood, beef, chicken, etc and the menu changes often. It's around the corner from another of my favorites, KC American Bistro.Tehre will be pairings-one dish with wine is $10, so on to 6 plates with 6 wines for $60.
                                                                                      Think tasty, sophisticated, and easy on the wallet. I'll have a report up this weekend with photos.

                                                                                      Thre's live music Friday and Saturdays. Well worth a visit-I'll be coming back, again and again.

                                                                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                        There's going to be a new restaurant in the Hibiscus Center in Naples, if all goes well..

                                                                                        This Friday, 6-10 pm at the Hibiscus Center "Moon over Hibiscus" event, there will be complimentary Brazilian food in the KAW Art Gallery, and a vendor will sell Middle Eastern foods. As an aside, there will be a fun array of "live art" as painters, dancers, sculptors, etc show their cutting edge works and actually create quite good art, on the spot. The previous event had fire dancers, this one should have some fun surprises, too. I won't say what kind of food may be at the restaurant that is considering opening soon; there may be a preview...who knows!

                                                                                        Brazilian food is rich, stick to your ribs full of taste and flavor. Probable items include: Brazilian torta de la Frango (chicken pie), coxinha bolinho de bacalhau , batatas recheadas com queijo; and Colombian Torta Negra (fruit and wine cake). The food and entertainment is well worth a visit! The next event may be 2 months later...

                                                                                        The Keys Bar & Grille brings island flavor to Naples with a Key West decor, most dinner and lunch items under $10, and fun dueling pianos on weekends. The grouper sandwich, fish taco and steaks look good. I've not tasted it, just been in after a dinner at Art of Being, a few doors down from each other. I also like KC American Bistro very much, and never had a bad meal at Bha Bha's, both on the long side of the Pavilion Shopping Center.

                                                                                    2. Read an article recently in the Naples newspaper announcing the upcoming opening of the Loving Hut restaurant on Pine Ridge Road (near 41)...it's a Taiwan vegan chain...has anyone here tried it in a different location? What's a great item on their menu?

                                                                                      1. have tried the new Sushi place---SushiOne on Pine Ridge a little up from So St City Grill (its where a coffee place use to be) and its the best sushi i've had here. i heard the chefs are from Club sushi/Fujiyama's and i've eaten there too and i think the food here is better (maybe owning the place has something to do with it). its very simple but tasteful inside. i've mostly done takeout.

                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Zeits

                                                                                          Val,

                                                                                          I like the Loving Hut on Pine Ridge (just East of the 7-11 that's on US 41) very much. I had the Golden Beauty-very good spicing, with mango smoothie. My friends liked the spring roll and curry soup and avocado smoothie. I was there on day 3, and not everything was available-that's since been updated, so there's some 70 different vegan items now. This Saturday is their grand opening, and there are free tastings!

                                                                                          Zeits, I agree with you , Sushi One is tops in fresh sushi!

                                                                                          I've also had their bento box with salmon for lunch and it's more than filling for perhaps $7.

                                                                                          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                            Thanks very much!!! Will check it out on Saturday...didn't know they were open!

                                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                                              Val,

                                                                                              Loving Hut write up with photos is up at::

                                                                                              http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                                                              I went there a cecond time with my two oprofessional tasters, and they liked it, and said would come back in a heartbeat. I concur!

                                                                                              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                Tried to go today...they were crazy-busy and seemed not to know what to do with ONE person...she asked me to wait...then someone said seat yourself and then she said no...please wait. I did and still didn't get seated so I left...had groceries in the car in a cooler but still..will check them out another time. Glad they were so busy, though.

                                                                                                1. re: Val

                                                                                                  the restaurant reviewer in the News-Mess gave them a great review on Friday which kind of made me sad. He/she usually doesn't review restaurants early as it can put a strain on a place where the systems may not be completely working yet. I'll wait a little before trying it out.

                                                                                                2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                  Wow, Loving Hut sounds and looks good. Thanks for the heads-up. Great review, Ivan (as usual). I'll check it out the next time I'm in Naples (We are already back in Maryland for the summer).

                                                                                                  1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                    I went yesterday around 8pm and there were about 4 tables. The staff seemed a little disorganized and the waitress apologized for it, but it wasn't a problem.
                                                                                                    The food was very good and will definitely try to go back! One little thing was that they don't have all the items on the menu yet.

                                                                                                    1. re: 1800Hungry

                                                                                                      We were in Naples recently and ate at Loving Hut twice. Altogether we tried perhaps 5 or 6 of their dishes and they ranged from good to really delicious. I'm a confirmed carnivore but I'd go back there any time. The service was very friendly and helpful. Prices are reasonable and everything is freshly prepared. A welcome addition to the Naples dining scene.

                                                                                            2. i don't know if my review of phensri thai got lost in this or another thread, but i'd venture that it is the best thai place in the fort myers area.

                                                                                              cornelius, the owner, is friendly, accommodating, and makes very tasty food. they need to get a website and post their menu, but it is reasonably extensive, but not expensive.

                                                                                              my sister and brother in law like an off-item menu as an app -- and my BIL even gets it as a main sometime: chinese sausage salad.

                                                                                              i was very pleased with their panang curry, a fried tilapia in coconut "special" on the menu, a jumbo shrimp dish that cor made up to my request, fresh salads, dumplings -- in fact, all i've had *except* pad thai, which is too sweet. my sister has been very happy with their duck and their frogs' legs. the green curry is also tasty - and, like all the other dishes -- is generous in portion, in my opinion.

                                                                                              i still bemoan the fact that NO fort myers thai places use fresh wide rice noodles. ;-( (because i love my pad kee mao *when* rice noodles are the fresh-made ones).

                                                                                              they have a nice lunch deal; the place is pleasant and relaxing; the service is friendly, and there is easy parking. sometimes service is a little slow, but i think it may be the kitchen working out some kinks. at least you know that it is fresh when it comes out!

                                                                                              i recommend phensri thai; and if you go, please tell "cor" that "alkapal on chowhound" says hello. ;-). and tell him i'm waiting for his green papayas to come in for some som tum!

                                                                                              not open on sundays or mondays, btw. north fort myers in the publix plaza on hancock and orange grove blvds.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                Alkapal,

                                                                                                I've got Phrensri on my list of places to try when I'm next in the area. sounds good!

                                                                                                1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                  IA -- I'm hoping you like it. Chat with Cor, the owner, before you order and tell him the things you like, and if you want it Thai spicy, not SW FL spicy. ;-).

                                                                                              2. need to try the loving hut--but wanted Inca's Kitchen to use that site for his "north naples" branch.

                                                                                                what's the word on "the Art of Being"?

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Zeits

                                                                                                  I've been to Art of Being several times and enjoy it-you will too!

                                                                                                  All items are $10 or under, and are "small" plates that offer more food per plate than tapas portions. Two plates is plenty for "a guy" to eat, and lighter eaters are happy with one plate. The plates are attractively presented, and Chef Charles' food is spot on.
                                                                                                  There's very good live entertainment Thursday, Friday and Saturday-call in advance for times and who's playing. Artwork on the wall changes every month-I really like that they support local artists and live music. The combination makes for a great evening!

                                                                                                  1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                    Ivan, did I read that Art of Being recently RE-opened? Haven't been there yet but it sounds great.

                                                                                                    1. re: Val

                                                                                                      Val,

                                                                                                      I called there tonight, and the phones were out of service-no answering machine.

                                                                                                      Doesn't sound good for them. Shame, great food and great entertainment. I'll contact an owner and see what's up. guess you can't snooze when it comes to trying new places in town!

                                                                                                      I went today with 3 more friends to Loving Hut, and everyone said they'd be back. Delicious and good sized portions.

                                                                                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                        something in the paper recently of an ex-employee stealing from the Art of Being--wanted to try them too.
                                                                                                        i hope they're back.

                                                                                                        loving Hut getting good word of mouth.

                                                                                                        did you see the "hit" job NDN did on SushiOne?

                                                                                                        1. re: Zeits

                                                                                                          Mitch,

                                                                                                          It's a very tough environment for a restaurant these days..
                                                                                                          I know you have a schedule even busier than mine!

                                                                                                          Art of Being was great-I did my best to get the word out, and so did others...but too few people came to give it a try, whereas there were lines of people waiting to get in at some of the Mercato places. O've learned that Art of Being's service was not good in the last week, and Chef Charles Bartholf and Bernadette Bloom have completely disappeared off the grid...

                                                                                                          Generalization-People in this commuity often stick with "big boxes" and blow right by Mom and Pops offerings. Unlike you and me, they'll never venture inot the Inca's Kitchens and other spots not frequented by others in 'their building" or circle of friends...

                                                                                                2. H2 is now The Twisted Vine Bistro. I attended a social there last week; noshed on some apps and glanced at the menu but did not go further. I noticed diver scallops, wild salmon and a 17 oz pork porterhouse for entrees along with some interesting apps. Anyone had a chance to dive in?

                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: MartiniGenie

                                                                                                    I enjoyed Twisted Vine! The chef is passionate about cooking and he's very knowledgeable.
                                                                                                    My finicky friend and I tried a few things and each dish was nicely done, with balanced flavors. The dessert is the bomb! I liked the live music/musician. I'd go back in a heartbeat if I lived in Fort Myers.
                                                                                                    I wrote a report at:

                                                                                                    http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                                                                                    1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                      There's a new restaurant in town, with one of my favorite chefs, Chef Scott Sopher at the wheel! Er, make that "wheels", to be more accurate, as he's now located all over Lee and Collier Counties with his new mobile dining venture, the "Nosh Truck!"

                                                                                                      He'll first appear at Fort Myers' Green Market Saturday mornings, with a variety of crepes, salads, Korean BBQ sliders, vegetarian dishes and then crab cakes and burgers in time. Supporting the community, he'll buy produce from other vendors at the Green Market, and prepare the food on the spot! Way cool!

                                                                                                      During the week, he'll be at different locations cooking lunches. Find out where and when from email, Facebook and Twitter.

                                                                                                      Mobile restaurants have been the rage across the country for several years. They are successful, selling restaurant- quality food at significant discounts, because of the low overhead.

                                                                                                      Check it out!

                                                                                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                        But we have no mobile restaurants or food trucks in Naples...what are you talking about, Ivan????!!!!! I'm on FB so will check him out...thanks!!!! ♥♥

                                                                                                        1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                          Sopher owned the late Cin Cin didn't he? I am looking forward to his food truck. Hopefully he'll come by our building or close by. The latest restaurant in his old Cin Cin location, Lush, does not appeal to me at all and I assume this is purposeful. Overtly "sexy", (and to my taste, kind of trashy) it is attracting a crowd that should have the Prawnbroker patrons in shock. LOL.

                                                                                                          1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                                                                                            Yep, he was kind to 'friend' me on facebook last night, so am hoping to try that food truck out sometime in the near future...really different idea (for swfl, anyway)...

                                                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                                                              me too. i suggested their FB page to wink's trey radel. he likes good food and is a nice guy.

                                                                                                        2. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                                                                                          Much appreciate the review on TTV. The diver scallops would have been my pick, or the salmon. I am fortunate enough to attend sponsored socials there at least every other month, so I have already noshed on some of the apps.

                                                                                                          Food truck at the Market; not far from house. Will have to check it out.

                                                                                                          1. re: MartiniGenie

                                                                                                            I *do* have a concern about the food truck...that is, most establishments will probably NOT take kindly to someone selling food from a truck especially in up-tight Naples...they seem to allow little vendor trucks around construction sights but oh, my...around town? Not sure this will 'be allowed.' Just a heads up to many...hope I'm dead wrong, too! You can't even sell produce from back of a truck here, so not sure how this will go, but hope he succeeds!!!!

                                                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                                                              Val, You are right on target in Nap[es. Scott's done his homework on getting all permits for his mobile operation.
                                                                                                              LMF, I enjoyed his tapas at Cin Cin, and his brief stay and financially troubled Naples Bay Resort and its crown jewel, Olio.

                                                                                                              While the next place at Cin Cin's spot, a Mexican spot was a short lived dud, Shannon's new Lush should do nicely there, filled wit Shannon's followers, and definitely startling and bewildering the Prawnbroker crowd! After over a week he does not have anything on his Lush website to tell of its offerings-I'm curious-someone pop in and see!

                                                                                                              MG, Twisted Vine is a breath of fresh air in Fort Myers. Go early or late, and talk with the chef about food and get some good pointers, too. Harolds and H2's Harold Balink, now at Cru, is one of my favorite chefs.

                                                                                                              Back to Scott Sopher...For starters, Scott will Tweet and FB his Nosh Truck's presence around Naples, cruise the industrial park area and construciton sites, and avoid high profile touristic areas. With farmers markets popping up like champignons practically every day of the week, that'd be a safe way to get his concept across in snootier Naples, and fit in, at least from 8 am till 1 pm or so till a farmers market closes. That way, he could determine which crowd best supports the Truck's cuisine.

                                                                                                              So, if Saturday it's Green Market in Ft M, Sunday he could perhaps go to the new Naples Farmers Market on US 41 in the back parking lot of Bank of Naples, just across from the Kmart/Fresh Market plaza at ~ 4200 block. Same for Weds and Friday at other farmers markets in Lee and Collier.

                                                                                                      2. Just thought I'd throw this out there, a group of us on Facebook have a sunday afternoon dining club if anyone is interested. Sunday Sept 4 is Sam Bucco Bistro in North Naples. This is a redirect to the group on FB www.swflcrawl.com